| In the first millennium BC, the Chinese empire expanded into what is now Vietnam. China's hold on the area was maintained, more or less, for about the next 1000 years. Europeans came to the region in the 1500s and by the early 19th century, France was the undisputed foreign force in Indochina. French colonial rule expanded, which ultimately led to popular discontent. In 1954, the Vietnamese under Ho Chi Minh defeated the French at Dienbienphu. By armistice, the country was divided into a northern, Communist entity and a south under the French-created king Bao Dai. Refugees poured into the south and in 1955, the king was dismissed as a result of elections held in October of that year. The Republic of Vietnam was declared soon after. The conflict between the north and the south soon widened into a quagmire that engulfed the United States, some of its allies, and neighboring parts of Southeast Asia. The withdrawal of the US military from the country in 1975, led to the entire country coming under communist control, which is how it remains today. The US has made some inroads into establishing a relationship with Vietnam but progress is slow and the memories still relatively fresh of the conflict that claimed so many lives over so many years.